Fire Proofing Your Home

by Ian Phillips

As Los Angeles residents are well aware, California wildfires are one of mother nature’s ultimate devastations. Last year was the most destructive on record for California wildfires, with the Thomas fire topping an 85-year-old list of the state’s largest wildfires. It was also the third year in the last decade that flames burned more than 1 million acres across the state. In this article, I will lay out preventative steps to protect your home before mother nature blazes a path towards you.

  1. Property Layout: The first and simplest thing you can do is to get a hundred feet of distance and incombustible material between you and wildlands using patios, driveways, or low-growing fire-retardant plants.
  1. Flame-retardant Roofs: Cracks and openings within older Spanish tile roofs make it very easy for wind to drive embers inside your attic. Therefore, it is important to choose a roof designed to interlock tightly and the installed over a fire resistant cap sheet. For other roofing types, make sure to talk to an expert about how much gravel or ballast to install as heat and burn protection.
  1. Ember Resistant Exterior: Homes built of stucco, face brick, tile, adobe, concrete block, or metal siding can be designed any architectural style you wish. Extra precaution should go to overhangs on the house for that is where fire can get trapped and temperatures will be highest.
  1. Window Protection: Windows can be the weakest link in defending your building, for just radiant heat from a fire can shatter glass without flames actually reaching your house. Double glazing with tempered glass on the exterior is one of the safest ways to protect glass, however, the absolute safest option are roll-down metal fire doors built into the roof overhangs and release automatically by fusible links.
  1. Doors: Solid core wood doors are usually rated at 20 minutes of fire protection, but instead for extra safety consider a metal core door that can be faced in any material you like, and for added safety use a metal jamb.

All of these tips and products are easily available and simple enough to implement while you are planning and building your new or remodeled home. These precautions not only give your home a better chance of surviving a wildfire, but also the people who live in the home and the firefighters trying to protect it.

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